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a small slice of Northern Ireland -- Giant's Causeway, Belfast, etc.

a small slice of Northern Ireland -- Giant's Causeway, Belfast, etc.

Old Aug 27th, 2013, 12:38 PM
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a small slice of Northern Ireland -- Giant's Causeway, Belfast, etc.

For perhaps our last Bank holiday weekend, we decided to venture out a little farther than normal and visit Northern Ireland. Our past bank holiday weekends have been to N. Wales (2x), Lake District, Bath/Stonehenge, and Canterbury/Dover which are all about 3 hrs or so drive from our Derby base.

Photos and commentary: http://ukfrey.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08...n-ireland.html

Family of 4: DD14, DS11

We took an extra day off work and made it a 4 night / 3 day trip. Flights were conveniently from little East Midlands to Belfast City. We headed straight to the northern coast in our "hired" (rental) car.

Flights: £100 pp with 2 check bags (total) on Flybe

Car: £128 for 72 hrs, Hertz Premium class, auto (we returned it on our Belfast day)

Accommodations: 3 nights at the wonderful Valley View B&B outside of Bushmills (£260 for the family room for 3 nights).

http://www.valleyviewbushmills.com/

plus one night in Belfast as the Premier Inn, Alfred Street (£29/nt on offer -- sweet)

http://www.premierinn.com/en/hotel/B...-alfred-street

Day 1:
Giant's Causeway (NT)
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge (NT)
Dark Hedges drive through
Bushmills Distillery visit (but no tour)

Day 2:
walk from Giant's Causeway to Dunseverick Castle along the cliffs and coast (4.5 miles)
drive along coast to Cushendall and then Glenariff
2.5 mile walk in Glenariff Forest Park

Day 3:
Drive to Belfast
Black Cab tour
lunch at Crown Liquor Saloon
self-walking tour to City Hall, Albert Clock, Belfast Cathedral & Titanic Quarter

Contemplated visiting the newish Titanic Exhibit but decided on a city overview instead -- tough call.

Belfast was interesting. Glad we got a little insight into the Troubles but know we just scratched the service there (and perhaps didn't get a very well rounded view). The city itself, for what we could tell in one day, didn't grab us like say, Liverpool, did.

We love walking the countryside so the 2 days in the country were great. Glad we got to visit the Causeway and walk the cliffs. We could have visited more towns/cities along the coast but we liked the slow pace in our small slice around the NW coast.

Restaurants:

Really enjoyed the Bushmills Inn restaurant. Outstanding food and service. Expensive but fairly priced (£100 for the family with 3 courses and 1.5 rounds of drinks).

http://www.bushmillsinn.com/restaurant.aspx

The Nook outside the causeway wasn't very good but our other options were booked.

Sakura in Belfast was okay Japanese.

We really enjoyed the atmosphere (and surprisingly the food) at the Crown Liquor Saloon.

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/crown-bar/

Two other ex-pat families made similar trips (and we actually ran into a third) which enticed us to go. I didn't see too many queries about the area on this forum so it perhaps doesn't rank very high on priority lists. Perhaps this will help . . .

. . . or not.

Enjoy.
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Old Aug 27th, 2013, 01:14 PM
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we're staying in a wonderful apartment right outside Portrush last night and tonight.
Today, we visited Dunluce Castle (amazing), took the Bushmill's tour (well done), crossed the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and hiked around both sides (the bridge was scary, but fun; the views excellent--we were there for well over an hour), spent 3 hours hiking around Giant's Causeway (stunning).
Last night's dinner at Harbor Wine Bar wasn't worth the 45 minutes we waited. Tonight's dinner at 55 North was excellent.
Tomorrow we're driving to Belfast, with many stops in the Glens of Antrim along the way.
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Old Aug 27th, 2013, 01:26 PM
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Hey, who's trip report is this?
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Old Aug 27th, 2013, 02:15 PM
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thanks, indy_dad,

by now it'll come as no surprise to you that I've never made it to NI, let alone to the giant's causeway, so thanks for the photos showing me what I've missed.

I think that your summary of the "troubles" is pretty accurate as far as it goes - there are of course "protestants" in the south as well as "catholics" in the north, and neither necessarily supports the loyalists or republicans respectively.

what you have omitted [and this is not meant as a criticism] is the deep involvement of the para-militaries in crime - gun running, drugs, and general villainy, with very little real care or consideration for the people they supposedly represent.
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Old Aug 27th, 2013, 03:21 PM
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Indydad, another great report with such specific details and wonderful pictures, of course.

We took of tour of Northern Irland in 1999 when it was just beginning to promote its tourism (we were told)to a larger audience. I recall that the guide warned us repeatedly NOT to photograph military/police installations. Our tour guide was a charming redhead from the Republic who didn't dare tell her father that she was leading groups to the North.

I believe what Annhig says about the "... the deep involvement of the para-militaries in crime - gun running, drugs, and general villainy, with very little real care or consideration for the people they supposedly represent."

The fight these days appears to be territorial rather than religious I guess.

Again, great report...
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Old Aug 27th, 2013, 03:34 PM
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The fight these days appears to be territorial rather than religious I guess.>>

not sure it ever was religious as such, but between two communities who defined themselves that way, a bit like sunnis and shi'ites.

religion per se had/has little to do with it.
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Old Aug 27th, 2013, 06:23 PM
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Wonderful trip report, indydad! Thanks for sharing. The landscape is incredible.
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Old Aug 27th, 2013, 07:18 PM
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Thanks once again for a wonderful tale and great pictures! You really made the Causeway structure clear with your mixture of closeup and distant shots.

I have been lucky to visit that area twice-once with students when I was teaching in County Wicklow and much later as an adult with a niece in tow. When I was with students, we also hiked Glenariff, where one of the young men lost a shoe over the edge of a steep part of the path. He knew he could not retrieve it, and threw his other shoe hurtling down as well. We had to make an emergency stop at a shoe store and buy him a pair of cheap "trainers"--sneakers.

The other end of the Giant's Causeway in geological terms is on the edge of Staffa Island (near Mull) in Scotland. My nephews and I went there an loved the puffins.

When do you have to come back to the US? You have certainly made great use of your time!
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Old Aug 27th, 2013, 10:17 PM
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@annhig -- thanks for the additional insight; I wasn't fully aware

@lateday -- thanks for he kind words

@Chgogal -- thanks. Is your Peak District trip coming up soon?

@irishface -- thanks as well. You are my biggest fan. Though not finalized, it looks like we will be heading back to the States at the end of the year. It's been a great opportunity and we will certainly have mixed emotions on our return.
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Old Aug 28th, 2013, 08:57 AM
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Yes! I return to England mid-Sept, and will be in the midlands at the end of the month. Can't wait. Reading "Year of Wonders" by Geraldine Brooks (a novel of the plague that struck Eyam) and the story is making me terribly excited for my time in that village... if I don't get lost on my hike from Bakewell. Your trip reports, esp. the pics, have been a great help in sorting out my itinerary. My maps are laminated and ready! Wanting a gps but a bit torn. In the city, it's hard to test the technology and the folks at the Garmin store didn't know if the gps shows trails, bridle paths, etc., like my ordnance survey maps do. I'll spend a little time doing the research and hopefully will figure that out.

What a wonderful experience you've given your family. I'm so envious of all the weekend trips the four of you have made. If you ever plan a trip to Chicago, I hope to help you plan and return the favor!
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Old Aug 28th, 2013, 10:36 AM
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ChgoGal -- do it . . . .

you can get free maps that look like OS maps and have all (okay most of) the trails here:

http://talkytoaster.info/ukmaps.htm

love my eTrek 20
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Old Aug 28th, 2013, 11:39 AM
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Ah man... you're gonna make me spend money. Thanks very much for the link and the endorsement. I love my garmin nuv... so I'm glad to hear you're happy with the eTrek.
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Old Aug 28th, 2013, 02:33 PM
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ChgoGal, I liked Year of Wonders so much that I emailed the author to thank her for writing it--and she emailed me back.

After that, I read March (about the father in Little Women) and People of the Book (about the Sarajevo Hagaddah). What continues to amaze me is her ability to change her writing style to fit the time and the characters.
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Old Aug 30th, 2013, 02:53 PM
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Thank you, am bookmarking. We are going in Nov and not sure depending on weather what we will do. I am def going to check out the Titanic museum and do the black cab tour and Crown Liquor Saloon. Isn't the other Premiere Inn a better choice if you are taking the train or bus from Dublin? Our fifth trip and never been to NI mostly because of the cost, dollar is bad enough against the euro.
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Old Aug 30th, 2013, 10:45 PM
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flpab -- the Alfred Street and Cathedral Quarter are less than a mile apart so it won't make much difference relative to the train/bus station (can't comment on where those are though!). The Titanic Quarter is just a little further out.

It was a quick subjective view, but I thought the area around Alfred Street was a little better.

Sign up to receive Premier Inn offers. It doesn't look like they are running the £29 deal at the moment, but I'm sure they will bring it back.
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Old Sep 1st, 2013, 07:59 AM
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Alfred St does look better and a quick walk to the Crown. I am signed up for Premier Inn offers so will keep an eye out for a good offer.
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Old Sep 5th, 2013, 09:50 AM
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hey flpab -- Premier Inn £25 sale starts tomorrow . . .
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Old Oct 27th, 2013, 11:46 PM
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Wonderful report and pix! I've done this trip several times (in conjunction with the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival) and have visited all of those places--except for the Distillery. I don't drink and didn't know if I'd find it interesting--but I'll probably go on my next visit in February.

I think NI's Antrim Coast (which includes the fantastic Giant's Causeway) is a secret gem. Also love the Glens, and Dunluce Castle, and the Dark Hedges! So beautiful. For anyone contemplating a similar trip I'll also suggest a walk along the shore at Ballintoy Harbour. It's one of my favorite spots.

Thanks for sharing and bringing back some wonderful memories!
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